What Vietnam needs is to keep independence and self-control, defend sovereignty, and maintain stability and a peaceful environment for development. No one is allowed to infringe on such sacred things, Vietnam’s Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh has stated.
Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh made this statement during a recent exclusive interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper regarding the latest events in the East Vietnam Sea.
Sr. Lt. Gen. Vinh has just returned to Vietnam from the 13th Shangri-la Dialogue, a multilateral forum mainly focusing on security issues in Asia, held from May 30 to June 1 in Singapore.
"It’s not unbiased that the international guests criticized China. They are just concerned that what happened to Vietnam could occur to another country in the future. If it occurs at sea today, it can occur on land tomorrow, and in the air the day after tomorrow," said Vietnam’s Deputy Defense Minister Nguyen Chi Vinh.
* More than one month has passed since China deployed its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 to Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. The Chinese have not hesitated to threaten the use of force and to use force, leading to serious consequences: Vietnamese ships tasked with requesting that China remove its oil rig from Vietnam's waters have suffered damage from attacks by Chinese ships; and, most recently, a Vietnamese fishing boat has been sunk by the Chinese. As one of the top leaders of the Vietnam People’s Army, what did you feel?
Sr. Lt. Gen. Vinh: I think it is a new attempt to gain advantages and interests in the nine-dash line they drew in the East Sea.
Their acts have threatened Vietnam’s sovereignty in particular and the country’s national security, independence and self-control, peace and stability in general. We are deeply concerned about their serious acts.
They made a mistake when they decided to infringe Vietnam’s sovereignty by force.
* Does anyone believe that Vietnam is provoking China?
Sr. Lt. Gen. Vinh: All witnesses can see that it is not true. Since we are transparent, we have invited local and international journalists to report at the scene. You know, they have reported and given comments without any restrictions.
Up to now, I haven’t heard any reporter at the scene saying that Vietnam disturbed or provoked China.
Vietnam Coast Guard ship # 2016 rammed by Chinese vessel #44101 in the waters of the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago. Photo: Tuoi Tre
* Do you know why China took such actions, despite being a big country and a permanent member of the UN Security Council?
Sr. Lt. Gen. Vinh: As I guessed, they want to impose a new behavior in international relations. That means they use force and threaten the use of force to gain interests that do not belong to them.
However, such actions are unacceptable in the modern world. I would like to underscore that China will gain no benefit from such behavior. I want to ask neighboring China if some oil fields in that area will make China richer or tarnish its image?
As a neighbor, I want to tell China that they should stop what they are doing and follow a legitimate path for development. They can become a superpower and even the most powerful country in the world if they follow a peaceful path for development.
The clip showing a Chinese vessel ramming and sinking a Vietnamese fishing boat on May 26, 2014
* China’s army and government leaders became furious as international guests showed support for Vietnam’s policy and solutions over the current East Sea situation at the Shangri-La dialogue 2014 held in Singapore. What are your comments?
Sr. Lt. Gen. Vinh: First, I would like to talk about the atmosphere of the Shangri-La dialogue this year. The defense leaders and scholars of many countries discussed many security issues but their main focus was still the East Sea problem.
I’ve yet to hear anyone saying what Vietnam did was wrong or Vietnam should do this or do that because Vietnam always complies with international law.
I think representatives of the Chinese side were angry because they did not understand the desires of the attendees at the dialogue.
It’s not unbiased that the international guests criticized China. They are just concerned that what happened to Vietnam could occur to another country in the future. If it occurs at sea today, it can occur on land tomorrow, and in the air the day after tomorrow.
In a civilized world, it’s impossible for a country to trample upon justice and international law and unilaterally use force to bully another country.
* In general, there are three ways to deal with the current situation: political negotiation, military conflict, and legal action. For political negotiation, China did not show goodwill. Neither side wants the current situation to escalate into an armed conflict. So, is the third way the only option?
Sr. Lt. Gen. Vinh: No. You cannot have three options but choose only one. To defend our sovereignty, we must use many solutions concurrently.
First, we should reinforce the great national unity and the unanimity of all citizens in and outside the country under the leadership of the Party and the State.
Second, we should continue to prove that Vietnam never ignores violations committed by China.
Third, we should strengthen our presence in international forums in order to ensure that the truth is being broadcast.
Fourth, many people have called on Vietnam to sue China in an international court. I think that is a peaceful solution based on international law.
We have to use all of the above solutions at the same time to force China to enter into negotiation with us and come up with a solution that both sides will agree with.
About armed conflict? We will use all necessary measures to prevent it from taking place. There is clear evidence that although our ships have been intentionally rammed by Chinese vessels, we did not fight back with the same brutality. Furthermore, they attacked and sank our fishermen’s boats, but we did not do the same thing to their fishing vessels.
We remain unafraid of them. I think that is the power and humanity of Vietnam.
In the case that China or any country wants to start a war with us, we have no choice but to defend our country.
I believe that Chinese leaders will not choose to start a war. If they do so, it will be the biggest mistake of this century and will affect the world.
China will never become a superpower or even a reliable and respected country if they wage a war against Vietnam.
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